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Dossier: Judeus portugueses na Europa e nas Caraíbas, séculos XVII-XVIII

Few Wealthy and Many Poor: The London Sephardi Community in the Eighteenth-Century

Poucos ricos e muitos pobres: A comunidade sefardita de Londres no século XVIII
Peu de riches et beaucoup de pauvres: la communauté séfarade de Londres au XVIIIe siècle
Julia R. Lieberman
p. 41-61

Resumos

Em 1749, os anciãos da comunidade sefardita de Londres anunciaram uma mudança significativa na distribuição da sedaca (caridade) que teria consequências a longo prazo para os pobres assistidos pela congregação. A partir de então, apenas poderiam beneficiar da sedaca as viúvas dos seus funcionários religiosos, as pessoas com mais de 60 anos, as crianças pequenas, e aqueles que chegavam diretamente da Península Ibérica fugindo da Inquisição. O plano foi posto em vigor e foram criadas novas instituições para assistir os “pobres industriosos” e os “doentes curáveis”. Este ensaio estuda os registos dos anciãos e do Mahamad do século XVIII para concluir que a questão de como cuidar dos pobres se tornou tão fracturante que levou muitos dos membros contribuintes da congregação a abandoná-la como expressão do seu desagrado face àquelas medidas. Este artigo faz parte do dossier temático Judeus portugueses na Europa e nas Caraíbas, séculos XVII-XVIII, organizado por José Alberto Tavim.

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Notas do autor

I wish to thank Laura Arnold Leibman for reading an early version of this essay and offering insightful comments. I am grateful to the peer-reviewers of Ler História for their critique of the essay. Finally, I thank the London Spanish-Portuguese Jews’ Congregation and the Central Archives for the history of the Jewish People, in Jerusalem, for permission to use the manuscripts in their collections.

Texto integral

1Between 1739 and 1753 the Elders and the Mahamad of the London Sephardi community had joint annual meetings to discuss “The State of the Nation”. At these meetings, the Mahamad presented a list of recommended measures to reduce expenses for the following years. One item on the budget that stood out yearly was the “atraso”, or deficit, that by 1749 had reached £1932.12.6. One of the highest expenses was the cost of caring for their poor. Consequently, in 1749, the Elders announced a significant change to the distribution of sedaca that was going to have long-term consequences for the poor. From that day on, only the following would be admitted to the sedaca roll: widows of their religious staff, people 60 years or older, small children, and those arriving from Spain or Portugal fleeing from the Inquisition. All others requesting financial assistance would be helped only once. The plan was put into effect, and two new institutions were founded to help the “industrious poor”, and the “curable ill”. However, the burden of attending the needs of the poor did not lighten.

2This essay uses the eighteenth-century records of the Elders and the Mahamad to investigate the background of these reforms and the criticism and resentment they created among congregants. It also analyzes cases of poor who were excluded from receiving sedaca and their reaction to being excluded. My argument differs from previous studies showing the variety of changes made, including limiting who got what, discouraging “unsightly” poor, sending poor Jews to the colonies, and creating subscription charities. These changes are important as they help us better understand why Sephardim abandoned the community starting in the late eighteenth century, a process which previous scholars have attributed primarily to assimilation. I argue instead, that the issue of how to care for their poor became so divisive that it played a crucial factor in prompting many yehidim (paid members) to abandon the congregation altogether.

1. Iberian Refugees Arriving at London in the Eighteenth Century

  • 1 Diamond’s estimate of 1,500 refugees from 1701 to 1733 was revised by Richard Barnett (1970), who (...)
  • 2 Diamond (1962) suggests that the high death rate and the lack of immigration after 1745 were two (...)

3Surges in the Inquisition during the early eighteenth century led to large migrations from Portugal to London that overburdened London’s Portuguese congregation. Previous studies have estimated that during the eighteenth-century about 3,000 refugees fleeing the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions arrived in London and joined the Sephardi community. Most of these refugees arrived between 1720 and 1730, although some continued to arrive in the following decades. Other Sephardi immigrants from Holland, Italy, and North-Africa also arrived in the 1700s, probably in search of a better life (Diamond 1962, 21, 43).1 One unanswered question that this large number of refugees raises is why the congregation never grew above 2,000 people throughout the eighteenth-century, despite so many new immigrants. We may never be able to tell precisely why the congregation did not grow, but just posing the question is in itself worthwhile.2 Certainly among the new arrivals from Portugal were wealthy families, such as the Villarreal, a large family who arrived in 1726, or Diego Lopes Pereira (later Baron de Aguilar), in 1740. Other less affluent merchant families, such as the Mendes Seixas-Brandon Seixas (Seixas Family Registers 1920; Vieira 2015), or Dr. de Castro Sarmento and Dr. Isaac de Sequeira Samuda, became self-sufficient soon after their arrival. However, the majority of the Iberian refugees arrived impoverished. Among them there were elderly, disabled individuals, and unskilled widows who for many years to come were dependent on the sedaca fund.

  • 3 There are several accounts of the fire, see among others, The Central Archives for the History of (...)
  • 4 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of the 21 of Adar rison 5518. See al (...)

4A.S. Diamond and Richard Barnett have shown the congregation spent large sums to finance transportation from Portugal to London and to welcome refugees. Nevertheless, other than records of payments done on their behalf or of their re-marriages and circumcisions, we have very few other details of how the congregation helped the refugees to settle in London. The aftermath of a fire in 1738 provides a rare glimpse of immigrants’ living conditions in London. The fire accidentally broke out in Duke Place Street and, in the short span of two hours, caused the death of three Jewish women. Many properties surrounding the synagogue burnt to the ground, and the synagogue roof was damaged. The destruction left over 40 poor families “without shelter and clothing to wear”.3 Many of the poor refugees were residents in the properties surrounding the synagogue, known collectively as la fabrica, where the fire started. These buildings belonged to the congregation, which had converted them into living residences where the poor lived. La fabrica was a squalid space with unsanitary conditions but, because of proximity to the synagogue, the Elders and Mahamad on occasions paid attention to it. For example, the Mahamad reminded the residents to put trash in the assigned place or to keep hallways and stairs clean. The residents themselves also complained about noisy neighbors and family disputes.4 Housing the poor so close to the synagogue created intimate contacts between the wealthy and poor, as the former could not avoid seeing the poor as they went to their daily prayers. Accounts of the fire strongly suggest the congregation was unprepared to deal with the heavy financial burden of caring for the poor.

2. Responses to the Influx of Poor

  • 5 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 6 Ab, 5487, 1727.
  • 6 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), Minutes of 3 Hesvan 5500 (1739). It is uncle (...)

5The first response of the community to the enormous influx of poor was to try to rid the community of poor who might prove embarrassing, but when this didn’t prove enough, the community increasingly limited charity to them. To be sure, other Western Sephardi communities such as Amsterdam, initially developed a well-organized and generous system of poor relief that provided help to the needy throughout their life (Bernfeld 2012). One bias of this system, however, was that it discouraged “unsightly poor”. The system of poor relief, for example, favored those arriving directly from the Iberian Peninsula fleeing from the Inquisition. In contrast, Sephardi poor arriving unexpectedly on their own, perhaps looking for a chance to improve their lives, were often unwelcome, mainly if the congregational leaders suspected they would end up as street beggars or if their presence could be considered a social embarrassment. These poor were referred to by the disparaging term “despachados” (literally sent away). For example, in the summer of 1727, “despachados” who had been asked to leave and did not do so within 15 days, could not enter the synagogue nor be in the district, and their names would be posted on the synagogue court.5 Another case was Isaac Dasan (1739). Dasan showed up at the congregation accompanied by two wives and, so “to avoid a scandal”, he was provided with an allowance on condition that he and his two wives would leave London.6 In other words, the community’s reputation motivated charity.

  • 7 See Diamond (1962) who refers to 1726 as the climax year, but his study covers 1720-1733 only.
  • 8 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 22 Menahem 5492 (1732).
  • 9 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 26 Hesvan 5501 (1740).

6Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Iberian refugees, the expenditures for the poor skyrocketed above the assigned budget for both poor residents as well as foreigners.7 As the shortage in the budget began to climb in 1732, the Elders called the formation of a committee tasked with reporting suggestions on how to reduce expenses. The committee met a number of times and came up with a lengthy report. One suggestion was for the Elders and the Mahamad to meet jointly on an annual basis to discuss the budget.8 It was only in 1739 that those meetings began to happen and they continued to take place until 1753 when “The State of the Nation” would be discussed. Implementing measures was a process that lasted some years, an indication that cutting expenses was tough but also that there were different opinions on how to go about it. One of these measures was how to deal with the poor categorized as “forasteiros”. At a meeting in the fall of 1740, the following resolution was proposed: “That the Mahamad would make a list of those asking for assistance; that no one would be admitted [to the sedaca roll] – with the exception of widows or orphans if their husbands and fathers were on the sedaca roll before their death; that the Mahamad could give assistance to all others only once”.9 The resolution was included as an item for discussion three more times and on Kislev 4, 5501 [fall 1739] it was put to the vote and rejected by a majority, an indication that there was resistance to its implementation.

  • 10 CAHUP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 8 Hesvan 5509 (1748).

7No new action seems to have been taken until 1749, when the topic was brought up again on how to discourage those poor coming from elsewhere.10 As was the case previously, the resolution did not pass, and a sort of compromise was reached, and the resolution passed. The forasteiros would be considered for admission to the sedaca after five years of residence in London. The long time that it took for the resolution to pass indicates that the congregation was not unanimous on how to treat the poor labeled as “forasteiros”. It also indicates that the congregation had accepted the idea that these poor were there to stay, perhaps indefinitely, whether or not they would be put on the sedaca roll. This change of attitude to those unwelcome by the congregation was perhaps a coming to terms with London’s open-door immigration policy, which was attracting too many poor and making it difficult and costly to send them away. As we will discuss later on, with the passage of time the new term “strugglers” was applied to them, and their plight continued to be a source of contention for the congregational leaders.

  • 11 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, (1724-1751), minutes of 10 Elul 5485; also, minu (...)
  • 12 Yosef Kaplan (2002, 103-23) has documented the situation in Amsterdam for about the same period. (...)

8A second early (unsuccessful) solution to the burden of caring for the poor was to send the poor to the colonies. This solution potentially helped the congregation’s finances but didn’t address the problem of poverty per se. Starting in 1725, the congregational leaders began sending groups of those who had recently arrived from Portugal and voluntarily wanted to go to the British Colonies in the New World. Unfortunately, these travels were costly. Some travel costs were paid for with sedaca funding, while others were paid with borrowed advances. In the summer of 1725, two groups were sent away two months apart. The first group consisted of six males who were sent to Newport, and the second of eight males, one female and one family who were sent away to Jamaica, Barbados, and Newport.11 The total cost of sending the two groups was £390.00. The expectation was that these despachados would do financially well and that perhaps they would voluntarily return the cost of their travels to the sedaca fund.12 However, this did not always occur. Moreover, those relatives left behind in London were commonly the old, infirm, and unable to care for themselves.

  • 13 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 16 Adar 5496 (1736). Sara (...)

9Perhaps the best known of those sent to the New World was a group of 16 adult males and their families, a total of about 42 people, who in 1733, under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribeiro, were sent to the Georgia colony. Nunes Ribeiro was an ex-Converso physician who arrived from Lisbon to London with his family in about 1726, after a long history of suffering persecution from the Inquisition. A group of British philanthropists initiated the colonization of Georgia, among them Captain Thomas Coram, who obtained a charter from King George II and those sent to the colony were to be selected among deserving poor. A committee of three influential members of the congregation, Moseh da Costa, Joseph Rodrigues Sequeira, and Jacob Israel Suasso interfered on behalf of the Nation and made it possible for the Portuguese Jewish settlers to join the colony. According to Barnett, the Sephardi colonization scheme collapsed in 1740, and the Portuguese Jews dispersed to various other Jewish centers in the New World. Dr. Nunes Ribeiro and his daughter Zipra are considered founding figures of American Jewry. In at least one case, an entire family eventually returned to London, incurring additional costs to the congregation.13

  • 14 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of the meeting of 3 Hesvan 5500 (173 (...)
  • 15 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 5 Hesvan 5518 (1757).
  • 16 See Barnett (1978, 111). Also CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 3 H (...)
  • 17 See LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Mahasim Tobim Society, 1 (1753-1780), lists dated March 16, (...)

10The next organized group sent to the New World was a group of 26 families, a total of “150 souls”. They were sent in the fall of 1739, to an unspecified location at a cost of £83.4 to the congregation.14 Occasionally, individuals received help to move to the British colonies. For example in the fall of 1757, Selomoh Abady was granted £8, although no specific destination is given.15 Another one was the physician Dr. Semuel Nunes Carvalho. His case demonstrates how difficult it was for some of the Portuguese refugees and their families to make it on their own in London and how long they were dependent on the sedaca fund and other congregational charities. Nunes Carvalho’s name appears as early as 1735, as one of the parnassim of the Hebra. Later in the same year when Dr. Abraham Fernandes Lopes died, Nunes Carvalho replaced him. However, in the fall of 1749 Nunes Carvalho was offered £20 to move to America. He accepted the offer and left in the late fall of 1749.16 It is highly probable that his move was only temporarily, as he is on-and-off the list of borrowers and debtors to the Ma’asim Tovim Society between 1762 and 1780. Moreover, the Ma’asim Tovim society paid for his children to be apprenticed in London.17

  • 18 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 9 and 16 Sivan 5509 (1749).

11In late spring 1749, the Elders were giving financial assistance to “any family or individual of our Nation desiring to go to Nova Scotia [Canada] or any other place in America”.18 Clearly, this call was addressed to those already receiving sedaca, as the assistance would consist of three years’ worth of their allowances, but on condition that, if they were to return, they would be excluded from receiving sedaca for a period of ten years. The proposition passed unanimously and was announced on the teba. It is unclear if any poor replied to the call. In conclusion, the number of those sent to British colonies in the New World was significant, taking into consideration the relatively small size of the congregation. More importantly, the decision to finance these trips with congregational funds signals that the leaders were now viewing the practice of sedaca in ways very different than their predecessors. This new way of practicing sedaca was very similar to the way their British Christian contemporaries understood the practice of charity. Acts of charity were now done as mercantile enterprises on behalf of the employable poor, and finding employment was to guide many of the actions taken by the congregation.

  • 19 For a study of Ma’asim, see Lieberman (2017a, 113-24). See also Barnett (1940, 49).

12A third strategy to deal with the financial stress on the congregation was to create subscription charities rather than relying solely on mandatory taxes paid by congregants. The two institutions discussed in this section were founded within a short span of time: Bet Holim in 1748 and Ma’asim Tovim (in English Good Deeds) in 1749, but while the hospital was planned and founded in under a year, the founding of Ma’asim Tovim took over ten years.19 Both institutions relied on voluntary subscribers rather than synagogues taxes. The models for this form of financing charitable institutions were the so-called joint stock or associated charities that were founded in London in the 1740s (Andrew 1989, 49). Ma’asim Tovim sought to relieve the financial burden on the congregation by making the poor better able to care for themselves. It provided work in the clothing industry to women, gave interest-free loans to purchase tools or supplies for a trade, set up a pawn shop where borrowers pawned their valuables as collateral, financed apprenticeships for youth and rewarded domestic servants who remained with the same family for over a year. In general, these attempts to reform the poor and make them “industrious” only lasted a short time.

13Ma’asim Tovim started to provide interest-free loans in 1752 and two years later, in 1754, it established the pawn shop. As the poor were expected to pay back their loans in the first case or redeem their valuables in the second, the governors assumed that the flow of money recapped from the poor would allow them to continue giving out loans. In reality, this did not happen. In 1764, as the governors were trying to figure out why the poor did not utilize the services of their pawn shop, they found out that their inspector, Aaron Senior Coronel, had embezzled £65, or 45% of the total budget. The pawn shop closed in 1766. As for the poor borrowing money for their trade, by 1765, the number of poor in default of their payments reached 180 and their debt to the society, over £64. Frustrated by these failures, many subscribers quit altogether.

14Bet Holim hospital was founded to take the pressure off the sedaca fund by caring for the ill poor. In contrast to the slow response of congregants to the founding of Ma’asim Tovim, Bet Holim was not only carefully planned and designed but, in under a year, the founders raised over £787 from subscriptions from members of the congregation. Similar to other non-Jewish associational hospitals of the time, Bet Holim was governed by a board of directors and four committees. It was staffed as a modern hospital with medical personnel consisting of two doctors, a surgeon, an apothecary and two midwives who volunteered their services, as well as ten paid staff members (Lieberman 2017b, 114). Bet Holim’s founders justified the founding of the hospital as a way to alleviate the sedaca fund of its annual £500 contribution to the Gemilut Hassadim Hebra. The Hebra, as it was familiarly known, was initially founded in 1665 for “tending the sick and burying the dead” (Laski 1952, 25-28), but with the arrival of the Iberian refugees, it provided daily medical care to the poor. As the hospital was going to be funded by the voluntary contributions of its subscribers, the founders argued, the hospital was going to be a saving to the sedaca fund.

15Yet, soon after its founding, the limitations of the hospital became apparent. The hospital was set to accommodate only sixteen in-patients, while the Hebra would continue to care for the far more numerous out-patients. Additionally, the substantial cost of maintaining Bet Holim was never covered by the subscribers’ fee and it continued to rely on the sedaca fund annual contribution (Lieberman 2017b, 129-30). In 1755, Bet Holim started to accept “invalids” to create additional income for the hospital. In reality, however, these patients paid for their lodging mostly with the allowance they received from the sedaca fund. By the 1760s, coinciding with the crisis suffered by Ma’asim Tovim, Bet Holim hospital was no longer the modern institution that its founders had intended but rather a place where a few in-patients were sleeping close together to keep warm and the disabled would walk out to beg from passersby for money. Perhaps more important than the financial challenges that Bet Holim and Ma’asim Tovim brought to the congregation, the two institutions also eroded the sense of community that existed when the refugees started to arrive. As I note later, letters of resignation from a number of congregants became frequent in later decades.

3. The Sedaca Fund and its Structure

16When all the first three methods proved not enough to fix the congregation’s finances, the fund itself was restructured from a charity that made decisions case by case to a more British notion of the “worthy-unworthy” poor. Starting in 1666, the primary financial source for the sedaca fund was the tax imposed on congregants. The poor were provided with weekly sedaca allowances and on major Jewish festivals. Additionally, the congregation also provided the poor with unleavened bread on Passover (Laski 1952, 20; Barnett 1931, xiv-xxi). Diamond’s study has discussed the staggering budget increase that took place with the arrival of the refugees, both for the so-called “povres da terra”, as well as the “povres forasteiros”. Although neither Barnett nor Diamond specified what criteria were followed to qualify for receiving sedaca, they both point out that the congregational leaders took pains to control the number of poor and send those they considered undesirable to other Jewish communities –the so-called despachados.

  • 20 See CAHJP/HM2/997 Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 9 Sivan 5509 (1749).

17Yet, when the Iberian refugees started to arrive in the 1720s, the Mahamad’s records show that, for a while, the distribution of financial help was done on an individual basis. Eventually, long lists of those receiving monthly housing and weekly living allowances showed up on the Mahamad records, while simultaneously the deficit led to the annual discussions between Elders and Mahamad referred to as “The State of the Nation”. As mentioned above, in the spring of 1749, the Elders firmly announced that from then on, only individuals unable to hold jobs would be admitted to the sedaca roll. These rigorous measures, the Elders acknowledged, were needed, or else the help provided to the poor they considered worthy would have to be substantially lowered.20

18The reforms of 1749 resulted in categorizing the poor under labels which were never used before. Two of these labels were: the “invalidos” (invalids) and the “strugglers”. The two groups were on opposing ends: the congregational leaders never questioned that invalids by reasons of their disability were prevented from holding a job and therefore considered them deserving of some financial help from the sedaca. In contrast, the “strugglers” were healthy adults that were expected to work and therefore were disqualified for receiving sedaca. Nevertheless, one thing in common to both groups is that they were equally a challenge to the congregation. I argue that the heavy financial burden that these two groups posed for the community was a threat to its collective survival.

  • 21 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 9 Sivan 5509, see the list of those qualifyin (...)
  • 22 Searches for the term invalido in Spanish texts give little evidence of its usage in the eighteen (...)
  • 23 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 13 Elul 5515, summer 1755, list o (...)
  • 24 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, minutes of 20 Sivan 5493 and 14 Elul 5493 (1733) (...)
  • 25 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 7 Hesvan 5522 (1761).

19The term invalid shows up on the congregational records soon after the founding of Bet Holim in 1748. As the hospital could only accept “curable” in-patients, invalids were excluded from admission to the hospital. The records defined invalids as those with “a natural defect [that] impedes their ability to make a living”.21 In fact, these poor were typically mentally ill and/or were old and unable to care for themselves.22 Although no quantification exists to determine how many poor were invalids, they show up often with terms such as “doido” (mad) or “loco” (crazy). There were lists referred to as “Roll dos invalidos”, which included the names of those receiving weekly medical prescriptions, often as many as 28-30 names.23 Sometimes there are references to those the congregation sent to institutions for the mentally ill. In 1733, David Sadick Leon and Antonio Fernandes Pereira were sent to the “caza dos locos”. The latter allegedly lost his judgment and was a blasphemer. They were both sent to the parish institutions, but the congregation had to pay for both of them.24In 1761, there is a reference to expenses paid to an outside institution on behalf of “the indigents of the Nation who are crazy”.25

  • 26 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 2 Yiar 5515, the case of Raphael (...)
  • 27 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 27 Adar 5533 (1773), the cases of (...)
  • 28 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 28 Menahem 5535 (1775).

20Whereas mental illness struck both men and women, older women and the young were more likely to be granted an “invalid” status. These invalids were often residents in la fabrica. In 1755, Raphael de Saa Silveira and his wife, an invalid, were residents in la fabrica.26 In another two cases, two women living in the fabrica were unable to care for themselves, and the Mahamad was trying to persuade their relatives to care for them.27 Other times, they were living with their families, such as Jacob Bendahan’s son who received a one-time-only allowance on account that he was “doido”.28 Some cases of invalids are more notorious because their names show up as receiving help from more than one institution and for an extended period, as shown in the following cases.

  • 29 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 3 Hesvan 5513 (1752), when she received a mon (...)
  • 30 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, minutes of 4 Adar 5511 (1751).

21Abigail Delgado was among the Portuguese refugees arriving in the 1730s and in fall of 1738 she was granted monthly allowances for living expenses and housing rental.29 Then starting in 1754 her name shows up on the “roll dos invalidos” and receiving weekly medical prescriptions. In the spring of 1751, when a resident of la fabrica passed away, part of one of the apozentos was assigned to Abigail.30 However, three years later, on April 14, 1755, several resident neighbors reported to the Mahamad that Abigail, old and decrepit, was unable of living alone, and they feared she would set her apozento on fire. After repeated complaints, the Mahamad ordered her removal from the fabrica and assigned her an allowance for lodging. After over 17 years of being dependent on congregation help, perhaps she passed away shortly after, as there are no more references to her.

  • 31 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 12 Tebet 5514 and 2 Sebat 5516 (1 (...)
  • 32 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 19 Sebat 5516 (1756).
  • 33 LMA/4521/B/03/01/002, Bet Holim Hospital General Committee Minutes, 2, minutes of 18 Sivan 5516/J (...)
  • 34 LMA/4521/B/03/01/002, Bet Holim Hospital General Committees Minutes, 1, minutes of 11 Kislev 5518 (...)

22Another invalid in a similar situation as Delgado was Ester Lopes de Oliveira, who received medical prescriptions since 1754.31 She was also a resident in the fabrica, and in 1756 her neighbors reported to the Mahamad that she had lost her “juicio” or judgment and they feared she would set her apozento on fire. In her case, the Mahamad gave her an allowance to be a resident at Bet Holim Hospital.32 She and three other male invalids were admitted to Bet Holim on June 16, 1756.33 On November 23, 1757, Bet Holim governors were discussing her case again. She had just passed away, and the governors were trying to decide what to do with a small inheritance she had left, perhaps hoping her relatives would come and take charge of it. However, fifteen years later, on September 14, 1774, the account was still intact and Bet Holim’s governors decided to close it as no relative had claimed it.34

  • 35 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings of Mahasim Tobim Society, 1 (1753-1780), minutes of 9 S (...)
  • 36 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 20 Nisan 5527 (1767); the number (...)

23Hanah Halfon was also a long-term dependent on the congregational charities. Her name appeared first in 1758 when she borrowed £4 from the Ma’asim Tovim while she was receiving a sedaca allowance. She kept up with her installments until March 1761. However, in 1765, her outstanding debt of under two pounds was written off because she had become mad.35 We do not know who took care of her, but on Nisan 5527 (1767), due to a spell of inclement weather, the congregation opened a voluntary subscription and distributed money among the needy. Hanah Halfon and R. Galinda, both “locas” received £9.00 each.36 Then between 1772 and 1776, Hanah is documented as interned in the madhouse and in need of new clothing, which was charged to the sedaca fund. In a later entry, Dr. James Stratton in charge of the madhouse informed the congregation that the cost of her care had gone up and requested a fee increase. A search with the doctor’s name has resulted on further information, as he was in charge for decades of the by-now infamous, private institution Bethnal Green madhouse, where those inflicted with mental illness were cruelly mistreated (Lysons 1811, 27-38; Parry-Jones 1972, 227). To conclude, the poor classified as invalids and more specifically those with mental illness continued to be helped after the reforms of 1749 and often they remained dependent on the congregation for long periods of time. These poor were provided with medical prescriptions, housing or interned in either public or private institutions. Other times their families received an allowance to care for them. Although it is beyond the scope of this essay to conclude whether the congregation’s new style of practicing sedaca was more beneficial than the previous one, the evidence seems to indicate that categorizing the poor only created new financial and human resources challenges for the congregation.

24Other poor were those referred to as the “strugglers”. The term was used in English, in the midst of Portuguese records, often with the notation: “those we call strugglers”. A high probability is that the Mahamad and Elders started to use the new term when referring those previously considered “forasteiros” or transient. In any event, strugglers were either born in or long-term residents of London. One common characteristic of all strugglers is that they had no physical or mental impediment to keep them from holding a job and were therefore as of 1749 disqualified from receiving sedaca. Nevertheless, a small portion of the sedaca budget was allotted explicitly to strugglers. The Mahamad would put together a monthly list of about 25 names of adults categorized as strugglers who had requested assistance and would give them an a-one-time-only small amount of money. However, the same names show up repeatedly on lists of strugglers. Rather often, the only information recorded is their names and the amount they received, but other times the reason for requesting help is specified. The birth of a child, or an illness in the family, for example, were common occurrences. In what follows, I will discuss two strugglers, heads-of-their households, a woman and a man, to demonstrate how each of them tried to cope with their situation. What the two had in common is that the congregation denied their request to be put permanently on the sedaca roll and they both took their cases to the London Lord Mayor. As the two were also long-term dependents on the congregational institutions, and unable to make a living on their own, their cases also show how the British model of charity the Sephardi congregation had emulated –which attempted to reform the poor– was a failure.

  • 37 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tovim (1753-1780), see list of debtors of Ma’as (...)
  • 38 LMA.4521/B07/01/001/A, First Minute Book of the Portuguese Orphan Asylum of London (1758-1779), E (...)

25Penina de Leon Peres became a widow sometime in 1760 when her husband Jeuda passed away. The couple had at least three sons: Israel, about 18 years old, and Isaac and Elhanan, probably twins, of about 10. The eldest, Israel, had applied to Ma’asim Tovim for an apprenticeship in 1757, but the governors for unexplained reasons postponed his case for over a year, and instead of the master the family requested, Mordechay Moses, who trained youth to become embroiderers (bordadores), Israel was apprenticed to become an alfayate (tailor) in 1758 for five years to Henry Judah at the cost of £10.00. Israel, as we will see, was the luckiest member of the family. Around 1760, Jeuda, the father, was receiving some sedaca allowance and an interest-free loan related to his trade from Ma’asim Tovim in the amount of £1.14, which he never paid back before passing away later in the same year.37 Shortly after Jeuda’s death, Penina applied to the orphanage Abi Yetomim for Elhanan and Isaac. However, admission to the orphanage was competitive, and neither of their applications received enough votes for them to be accepted.38

  • 39 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, 1, 20 Iyar 5522 (1762).

26Penina seems to have been a resourceful woman, and one can deduce that she first tried personally to persuade the Mahamad to put her on the sedaca roll, but instead had got the customary one-time-only allowance the Mahamad gave to strugglers. In any event, the Elders discussed her case at their meeting on Hesvan 24, 5521, fall 1760. The Mahamad, it transpired, had denied Penina’s request to be put on the sedaca roll and Penina, not satisfied with the Mahamad’s answer, took her case to the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor, according to the records, had summoned the Elders and had tried to press them to provide Penina with cash to feed her children. As the Elders had not agreed, the Lord Mayor recommended taking into consideration that she was a poor woman. Perhaps because of the Elders refusal to put her permanently on the sedaca roll, the case somewhat got involved the overseers of the parish who had also summoned the Elders who gave the overseers the same answer. The Elders, however, refused to put Penina on the sedaca roll. Around a year later, as the records show she was granted an interest-free loan of £1 from Ma’asim Tovim, and a small sedaca allowance, which she was using as collateral for the loan.39 As her loan was so modest, it indicates that she was probably a street vendor selling merchandise of small value, such as lemons or shoelaces.

  • 40 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, see the list on f 84; the Appendix with (...)
  • 41 See LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, 1(1753-1780), minutes of 11 Sivan 55 (...)
  • 42 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 29 Nisan 5527, when due to inclem (...)
  • 43 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and the Mahamad, 2, 1751-1776, minutes of 16 Kislev 5532 (17 (...)
  • 44 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and the Mahamad, 2, 1751-1776, minutes of 23 Hesvan, 6 Kisle (...)

27Another struggler was Joseph Uzily (also Uzilio), who was dependent on the congregational charities for at least nineteen years, 1760 to 1779. As a youth of about 14, his name shows up on the records of Ma’asim Tovim on February 8, 1760, when the society arranged for an apprenticeship to become a shoemaker with a master named Michel Taylor. However, four years later, on February 8, 1764, a new master, John Bennet takes Taylor’s place, a strong indication that things did not work out between Taylor and Uzily, something that frequently happened with apprentices.40 The next time I have traced Uzily was in the summer of 1766 when no longer as an apprentice but as an “industrious poor” he borrowed also from Ma’asim Tovim an interest-free loan of £1 with his sedaca allowance as the warrantor. Between 1766 and 1777, Uzily’s name shows up as a borrower who would slowly pay back the society, and then would borrow again. These records also reveal that his father was also receiving sedaca, and a brother Marco Uzily, who at least on one occasion each of them acted as Joseph’s warrantor.41 However, Uzily was not able to make a living, as by 1767 his name also starts to show up on the list of “strugglers” as receiving occasional sedaca help.42 Then in the fall of 1771, already married and with children dependent on him, the Mahamad approved the customary small allowance to him as a struggler, but Uzily this time, angered by the one-time-only allowance, went personally with his small children to the Mahamad’s meeting place. The records tell us that he was loud, rude, and insisting that he be put on the sedaca roll. The Mahamad however, rejected his petition.43 Two months later, on November 14, 1771, the president and vice-president of the congregation were served with a “warrant” to meet with the Lord Mayor and explain why Uzily’s request for charity had been denied. The Mahamad resolved that they would respond to the summon advised by an attorney. In preparation, the attorney put together a document where Uzily is described as “born in England … [and] of the Jewish Nation … [but] being an idle person and capable of earning a living…” the elders of the synagogue refused to help.44

  • 45 LMA/4521/A/01/02/002, Orders of the Mahamad, 1776-1788, minutes of 26 Menahem 5543, 24 August 178 (...)

28The Lord Mayor asked the congregational leaders to help Uzily, on condition that he would apologize to them in his presence. Uzily was never put on the sedaca roll, but continued to receive monthly assistance as one of the “strugglers”. His wife gave birth to another child. In 1772, he requested an allowance to leave London, and the Mahamad approved it; however, he did not leave, and up to 1774, he was still receiving occasional help as a struggler and until 1777 borrowing from Ma’asim Tovim as an “industrious” poor. However, on August 24, 1783, Uzily –and a certain Mose Spenco (probably Penso) – went back to the Lord Mayor and the Elders and the Mahamad were summoned again. This time Uzily and Spenco had to apologize in the synagogue, in front of the congregation.45 Penina de Leon Peres’ and Joseph Uzily’s cases bring up the question of whether the congregation was legally responsible for caring for its poor. The Lord Mayor’s response in both cases does not provide a definite answer. One could interpret the response as a suggestion to be considerate to their plight, as a moral duty and not necessarily that the congregation was legally responsible. Given that the Ashkenazi congregations did not found charitable institutions until the turn of the nineteenth-century (Rozin 1999, 37-38), one could conclude that it was more a choice that the Sephardi congregation made.

4. Defectors of the Congregation in the 1780s

29Problems of the burden of poor relief help us reassess the “pull” of Christianity and secularism on the London Sephardim starting at the end of the eighteenth century which created harsh divisions about how people felt the poor should be treated and their “problems” solved. By the 1780s, the congregation was facing a new internal challenge spawned by debates about charity. Individual paid members were writing angry letters to the Mahamad and the Elders announcing that they were severing their ties to the congregation altogether. Each author of the letter gives a different reason for his dissatisfaction; however, a recurring complaint was that the care of the poor required too much of them. As often times the same individuals converted to Christianity soon after, it could be concluded that the care of the poor was not necessarily the main reason for their dissatisfaction. The eighteenth-century was a time of increasing secularization, which in the words of Shmuel Feiner, meant “a change in behavior and practice and a change in attitudes toward religious beliefs and demands” (Feiner 2011, xv). Therefore, abandoning the congregation was, in fact, the first step to their rejection of Judaism. Nevertheless, complaining about the burden of the poor also reveals that belonging to the Sephardi congregation was associated mainly with it’s poor and that congregants did not agree with the burden that the congregation put on them. In what follows, I have selected for discussion two letters as representative of two opposing views that congregants had of the poor who requested help from the congregation.

  • 46 See Samuel (2006, 259-311), who discusses Furtado’s life and includes the letter as an appendix. (...)

30On March 24, 1783, Isaac Mendes Furtado wrote an insulting letter to the Mahamad announcing his and his wife’s resignation from membership in the congregation. In the letter, Furtado angrily expresses his reaction to the events that had taken place a few days before at the festival of Purim and that had culminated in his defection from the synagogue. As per his letter, during the reading of the Book of Esther on the eve of the festival, constables had stormed into the synagogue disturbing him in his “devotions and in the distribution of my [Furtado’s] charities to the poor”. The next morning, a larger group of constables forcibly removed a group of young men, including his son Abraham. Other historians have previously discussed this letter, as it offers information on the tug-of-war that the Purim festival caused between the Mahamad who wanted an orderly behavior in the synagogue and some congregants who thought that the festival gave them a license to behave in a rowdy way.46

31However, for the purpose of this essay, what is of interest is that Furtado’s letter reveals the internal disagreements among leaders and congregants resulting from the care of the poor. The letter is, in fact, a list of complaints of Furtado’s disagreement with how the leaders organized the distribution of sedaca. Whatever one might think of Furtado’s views, his voice deserves attention as he shows familiarity with the way the budget was allotted to the sedaca fund and the running of the charitable institutions. He criticizes, for example, the recent congregational decision to stop giving the Lord Mayor the yearly gift, which he calls the “Tax of submission to the Lord Mayor”. In Furtado’s view, the problem was not with the gift itself, which he seems to favor, but rather that the leaders defrayed such a gift with sedaca money. Instead, in his opinion, the congregational leaders should have funded such a gift with their own money.

  • 47 Abigail Mendes Furtado, Abraham’s mother, received sedaca help for housing and living expenses, f (...)

32Furtado also directed his criticism to the insufficient help the poor received and to the governors of Bet Holim, as in his view, their rules regarding admission to the hospital were too strict and the few patients who were admitted did not receive professional medical attention but instead were attended by an apothecary’s apprentice. The congregational records, in fact, confirm that at the time of Furtado’s complaint there was no physician in charge of accepting and discharging patients, but rather an apothecary. Furtado ends his letter announcing that he and his wife wished “to dismember… from the congregation”. Soon after, Furtado converted to the Church of England and baptized his children. Furtado’s desertion from the congregation is not exempt of ironies. As he and his family were among the Portuguese refugees that arrived in the 1630s fleeing from the Inquisition and had been beneficiaries of the sedaca fund for a substantial period of time.47 Furtado’s letter of disagreement is a testimony that what united the congregation at the time of his family arrival –the care of the vulnerable– had resulted decades later in their major source of contention.

  • 48 See CAHJP/HM2/1088, Minutes of the Elders, 4, minutes of 29 Kislev 5555-Dec. 21, 1794.

33Another congregant with strong opinions on how to address the needs of the poor was Jacob Abenatar Pimentel, a governor of Ma’asim Tovim. On December 11, 1794, Pimentel addressed a letter to the Elders expressing his dismay at how many poor were dependent on the congregation.48 In stark contrast to Furtado, Pimentel was concerned that the congregational largess was making the poor dependent on its institutions and that it was up to the poor themselves to become self-reliant and get out of poverty. Pimentel’s opinions coincide with what the historian Donna Andrew has termed the “Attack on dependency” that London society of the 1770-1790 was expressing in reaction to the associational charities founded the 1740s (Andrew 1989, 155). As these institutions had failed to solve the problem of the poor, London society was by the 1790s considering a new type of institution, the so-called “charities of self-help”, where the poor themselves were both the providers and recipients of help. Pimentel’s proposed plan to get the Sephardi poor out of poverty contain evidence of these contemporary ideas of how to help the poor to become self-reliant.

34Pimentel describes the neighborhood where the synagogue was located as one where wealth and extreme poverty co-mingled. He sees “the numerous well-furnished shops for provisions in the neighborhood”, and contrasts them with the lack of industry among the numerous Sephardi poor who peddled “cane strings, barley sugar, and sweet cakes”. As for solutions to ending poverty, he proposes the formation of a committee to “investigate the causes of the present want of employment amongst the lower class… [and to find] methods of remedy the same, and of infusing a spirit of industry into them [the poor]”. Pimentel does not give specific information about the plan he proposes, but he expresses his confidence that his plan would provide a gradual improvement to the condition of the poor, “not only by diminishing the number of paupers but likewise by converting some of ‘em [sic] into contributors towards the general expenditure”. Although it is unclear what kind of institution he proposes, it is clear that it would be self-supported by the poor themselves. The Elders responded to Pimentel with a note of appreciation and forwarded the letter to the governors of Ma’asim Tovim, but there is no evidence that the plan he proposed was further discussed. Nevertheless, his letter is one more piece of evidence that the congregation’s distribution of sedaca was influenced by the British practice of charity of its time.

5. Conclusion

35The London Sephardi community in the eighteenth-century changed the way it addressed the care of its poor. These changes were started in response to the arrival of Iberian refugees in the late 1720s. Until that time, their practice of sedaca followed the system of poor relief that Western Sephardi communities established in the previous century. However, in the eighteenth century, the London Sephardi Jewry was by and large well integrated into the London majority society and the Catholic Iberian influence that was evident in their former practice of sedaca was replaced with institutions modeled on Protestant ones that emphasized the reformation of the poor. The Protestant models emulated by the Sephardi congregation had at first positive results. In spite of its small size, the congregation welcomed the Iberian refugees and accommodated the large number of poor that were requesting help. But with the passage of time, the core of wealthy congregants that sustained the poor, both with the finta or tax and with their voluntary subscriptions to the new charitable institutions, not only did not grow in numbers but with time began to drift away. In contrast, the number of poor kept growing. As this study has demonstrated, the care of the poor had a great impact on the collective identity of the London Sephardi congregation. This essay also shows how the records of the congregational charities are a rich source for our understanding of how the London Portuguese Jews became British as well as for shedding light on the history of immigration and assimilation to British culture more broadly.

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Bibliografia

Andrew, Donna T. (1989). Philanthropy and Police. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Barnett, Lionel D. (1931). El libro de los acuerdos. Being the Records and Accompts of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of London. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Barnett, Lionel D. (ed) (1940). Bevis Marks Records: Being Contributions to the History of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of London. Vol. 1. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Barnett, Richard (1970). “Dr. Samuel Nunez Ribeiro and the Settlement of Georgia”, in Migration and Settlement: Proceedings of the Anglo-American Jewish Historical Conference, London, July 1970. London, UK: Jewish Historical Society of England, pp. 63-100.

Barnett, Richard (1978). “Dr. Jacob de Castro Sarmento and Sephardim in Medical Practice in 18th-Century London”. Transactions & Miscellanies (Jewish Historical Society of England), 27, pp. 84-114.

Bernfeld, Tirtsah Levie (2012). Poverty and Welfare among the Portuguese Jews of Early Modern Amsterdam. Oxford, UK: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization.

Clarke, Laurence; Butler, Samuel (1737). A Compleat Exposition of the Book of Common-Prayer, and Administration of the Lords Supper ... Wherein the Whole Service Is Illustrated and Defended … to … Excite the Devotion of Such as Daily Use the Same. Compiled by Laurence Clarke. Vol. 2. London: Printed for the Author.

Croxson, Brownyn (1997). “The Public and Private Faces of Eighteenth-century London Dispensary Charity”. Medical History, 41 (2), pp. 127-149.

Diamond, A. S. (1962). “Problems of the London Sephardi Community, 1720-1733 – Philip Carteret Webb’s Notebooks”. Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), 21, pp. 39-63.

Feiner, Shmuel (2011). The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-century Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

“Items Relating To The Seixas Family: Seixas Family Registers”. (1920). Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 27, pp. 161-174.

Kaplan, Yosef (2002). “Moral Panic in the Eighteenth-Century Community of Amsterdam: The Threat of Eros”, in J. I. Israel, R. Salverda (eds), Dutch Jewry: Its History and Secular Culture (1500-2000). Leiden: Brill, pp. 103-123.

Laski, Neville Jonas (1952). The Laws and Charities of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation of London. London, UK: Cresset Press.

Lieberman, Julia R. (2017a). “New Practices of Sedaca: Charity in London’s Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community during the Eighteenth Century”, in J. R. Lieberman, M. J. Rozbicki (eds), Charity in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Traditions. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, pp. 105-129.

Lieberman, Julia R. (2017b). “The Founding of the London Bet Holim Hospital in 1748 and the Secularization of Sedaca in the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community in the Eighteenth Century”. Jewish Historical Studies, 49, pp. 106-143.

Lipman, V. D. (1970). “Sephardi and other Jewish Immigrants in England in the Eighteenth Century”, in Migration and Settlement: Proceedings of the Anglo-American Jewish Historical Conference, London, July 1970. London: Jewish Historical Society of England, pp. 37-62.

Lysons, Daniel (1795). “Bethnal Green”, in The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex. London: T Cadell and W Davies, pp. 27-38. British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-environs/vol2/pp27-38.

Parry-Jones, William L. (1972). Trade in Lunacy: A Study of Private Madhouses in England in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. London: Routledge.

Picciotto, James (1875). Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History. London, UK: Trubner.

Ruderman, David B. (2000). Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry’s Construction of Modern Jewish Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Rozin, Mordechai (1999). The Rich and the Poor: Jewish Philanthropy and Social Control in Nineteenth-century London. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press.

Samuel, Edgar (2006). “Anglo-Jewish Notaries (1731-1850)”, in At the End of the Earth: Essays on the History of the Jews of England and Portugal. London, UK: Jewish Historical Society of England, pp. 259-311.

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Notas

1 Diamond’s estimate of 1,500 refugees from 1701 to 1733 was revised by Richard Barnett (1970), who demonstrated that refugees kept arriving some as late as the 1780s. Barnett estimates the total to about 3,000. For other Sephardi immigrants arriving in London during the eighteenth century, see Lipman (1970, 37-62).

2 Diamond (1962) suggests that the high death rate and the lack of immigration after 1745 were two of the causes for the congregation lack of growth and this may be accurate for the years he surveyed. However, Barnett’s study, citing resolutions taken by the Mahamad (1970, 91-92), suggests that not all refugees wanted to return to Judaism and the congregation rejected them.

3 There are several accounts of the fire, see among others, The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (hereafter CAHJP/), HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 16 Sebat 5498 and London Metropolitan Archives (hereafter LMA/), 4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1750), 20 Adar 5498. See also Clarke and Butler (1737).

4 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of the 21 of Adar rison 5518. See also LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), 4 Adar 5511 (1751).

5 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 6 Ab, 5487, 1727.

6 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), Minutes of 3 Hesvan 5500 (1739). It is unclear whether Dasan left London.

7 See Diamond (1962) who refers to 1726 as the climax year, but his study covers 1720-1733 only.

8 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 22 Menahem 5492 (1732).

9 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 26 Hesvan 5501 (1740).

10 CAHUP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 8 Hesvan 5509 (1748).

11 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, (1724-1751), minutes of 10 Elul 5485; also, minutes of 24 Hesvan 5486 (1725).

12 Yosef Kaplan (2002, 103-23) has documented the situation in Amsterdam for about the same period. Between 1759 and 1814, a total of 430 despachados, mostly males left Amsterdam for the New World.

13 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1 (1724-1751), minutes of 16 Adar 5496 (1736). Sara Molina Montsanto wrote a letter requesting financial help for her and her family’s return to London, which the Mahamad approved.

14 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of the meeting of 3 Hesvan 5500 (1739).

15 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 5 Hesvan 5518 (1757).

16 See Barnett (1978, 111). Also CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 3 Hesvan 5510 (1749). Barnett, citing a different register, gives an earlier date of departure, December 12, 1746, and also reports that Carvalho was back in 1766. The discrepancy between Barnett’s date of departure and mine could be that either Dr. Carvalho traveled back-and-forth, or that his trip to Jamaica was delayed. In any event, Carvalho returned to London and continued to depend on the congregational charities.

17 See LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Mahasim Tobim Society, 1 (1753-1780), lists dated March 16, 1762; March 6, 1778; July 12, 1778. For his son and daughter, see LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Mahasim Tobim Society, 1 (1753-1780), minutes of 29 Tamus 5516 [1756] for his son Selomoh’s apprenticeship, and minutes of April 22, 1772, for his daughter Sara.

18 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1 (1733-1763), minutes of 9 and 16 Sivan 5509 (1749).

19 For a study of Ma’asim, see Lieberman (2017a, 113-24). See also Barnett (1940, 49).

20 See CAHJP/HM2/997 Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 9 Sivan 5509 (1749).

21 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 9 Sivan 5509, see the list of those qualifying for sedaca.

22 Searches for the term invalido in Spanish texts give little evidence of its usage in the eighteenth century. In London, the term surfaces later, in 1801, related to dispensaries, but referring to in-patients in hospitals. See Croxson (1997, 127-49).

23 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 13 Elul 5515, summer 1755, list of 29 names, totaling 38 medical prescriptions.

24 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, minutes of 20 Sivan 5493 and 14 Elul 5493 (1733), respectively.

25 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 7 Hesvan 5522 (1761).

26 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 2 Yiar 5515, the case of Raphael de Saa Silveira, who caused noise, was often drunk and mistreated his wife, who was on the roll dos invalidos. The Mahamad expelled Raphael was from the fabrica. It is unclear if his wife remained there alone.

27 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 27 Adar 5533 (1773), the cases of Leah Farra and Abigail de Samuel Milano, both “doidas”, who needed someone to assist them day and night.

28 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 28 Menahem 5535 (1775).

29 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 3 Hesvan 5513 (1752), when she received a monthly increase.

30 LMA/4521/A/01/03/001, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, minutes of 4 Adar 5511 (1751).

31 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 12 Tebet 5514 and 2 Sebat 5516 (1756).

32 CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 19 Sebat 5516 (1756).

33 LMA/4521/B/03/01/002, Bet Holim Hospital General Committee Minutes, 2, minutes of 18 Sivan 5516/July 16, 1756.

34 LMA/4521/B/03/01/002, Bet Holim Hospital General Committees Minutes, 1, minutes of 11 Kislev 5518/November 23, 1757 and minutes of 16 Elul 5532/September 14, 1772.

35 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings of Mahasim Tobim Society, 1 (1753-1780), minutes of 9 Sivan 5518 (1758), 18 Veadar 5524 (1764), 25 Adar 5525 (1765).

36 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 20 Nisan 5527 (1767); the number of voluntary donors who contributed to that subscription totaled 133, while the number of poor, most of them the head of families, far exceeded the number of donors, 355.

37 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tovim (1753-1780), see list of debtors of Ma’asim Tovim, dated March 9, 1760, Jeuda’s name was recorded as a debtor of £1.14, the same amount that the governors wrote off in 1761 after he passed away.

38 LMA.4521/B07/01/001/A, First Minute Book of the Portuguese Orphan Asylum of London (1758-1779), Elhanan’s application, minutes of 15 Yiar 5520. Four months later, on 27 Elul 5520 (1760), Isaac Leon Peres, age eleven, applied. Neither of them was admitted to the orphanage. Although it is unlikely, there is the possibility that Penina finally got some help for her two young sons.

39 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, 1, 20 Iyar 5522 (1762).

40 LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, see the list on f 84; the Appendix with lists of apprentices, f 183 (my own numbering) and minutes of 29 Adar 5520 (1760).

41 See LMA/4521/B/11/01/001, Minutes of Meetings Mahasim Tobim, 1(1753-1780), minutes of 11 Sivan 5526, 22 Adar seni 5527, 13 Hesvan 5533, 28 Adar 5536, 14 Nisan 5536 (1766-1777).

42 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 29 Nisan 5527, when due to inclement weather the Mahamad opened a subscription and the money raised was distributed among the various categories of poor. Also on 27 Elul 5531 (summer 1771), Uzily received a one-time help as a struggler, and again on 24 Elul, 5334 (1774) a weekly allowance for the duration of his son’s stay in the hospital.

43 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and the Mahamad, 2, 1751-1776, minutes of 16 Kislev 5532 (1772).

44 CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of the Elders and the Mahamad, 2, 1751-1776, minutes of 23 Hesvan, 6 Kislev, and 16 Kislev, 5532.

45 LMA/4521/A/01/02/002, Orders of the Mahamad, 1776-1788, minutes of 26 Menahem 5543, 24 August 1783.

46 See Samuel (2006, 259-311), who discusses Furtado’s life and includes the letter as an appendix. See also CAHJP/HM2/1087, Minutes of the Elders, 3, minutes of 27 Veadar 5543/ March 31, 1783. Piccioto (1875, 205-06) and Ruderman (2000, 181) also cite the letter.

47 Abigail Mendes Furtado, Abraham’s mother, received sedaca help for housing and living expenses, for seventeen years, 1735 to 1752. See LMA/4521/A/01/01, Minutes of the Mahamad, 1, minutes of 22 Kislev 5496. CAHJP/HM2/997, Minutes of the Elders, 1, minutes of 26 Hesvan 5501, and minutes of 17 Hesvan 5510, 1749. CAHJP/HM2/993, Minutes of Elders and Mahamad, 2, minutes of 17 Hesvan 5513, 1752.

48 See CAHJP/HM2/1088, Minutes of the Elders, 4, minutes of 29 Kislev 5555-Dec. 21, 1794.

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Julia R. Lieberman, « Few Wealthy and Many Poor: The London Sephardi Community in the Eighteenth-Century », Ler História, 74 | 2019, 41-61.

Referência eletrónica

Julia R. Lieberman, « Few Wealthy and Many Poor: The London Sephardi Community in the Eighteenth-Century », Ler História [Online], 74 | 2019, posto online no dia 25 junho 2019, consultado no dia 21 julho 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lerhistoria/4614 ; DOI : 10.4000/lerhistoria.4614

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